A walkthrough for a difficult point and click adventure or deleting a GApps domain and all Google services

A couple of months ago I left the Google cloud and I have been happily using my own services since then. My mailserver runs well and apart from the odd email that does not get through because the origin domain is a registered SPAM sender according to one of the blacklist (happened to two emails so far) and one email that was just way too big (15MB of photos). The synchronization of calendar and my contacts works well with all my laptops, notebooks, desktops, and the odd Android device. Many things actually got much better: I have (much) faster search (and I can use boolean operators - yay!); offline support for email finally works well enough to actually work; outgoing messages are signed; and did I say that it's actually much faster?

The only thing left on Google was my Google scholar profile. Today I wanted to move this final last piece and remove the Google Apps account for my old domain. I felt that my own cloud was a much better substitution for the services that Google offered and that I would not need to fall back to GApps. So I went off to delete the account, believing that Google would be a good guy like they promise and let me delete my account in an easy process.

First off, taking out all your data is a pain and you have to reserve at least a couple of days if you want to pull a backup before deleting the account. The Google takeout crashed several times (on the Google side), so all I got was a non-descriptive error message that told me something failed on their side. After the 4th or 5th try they managed to keep the job running long enough so that I could pull the zip file - which I hopefully don't need but better one backup too many than one too less.

Then I set off to delete the GApps account this morning, trying to follow their suggestion on the forum (well, I actually tried figuring it out myself but there are just too many confusing options - almost like the Facebook privacy settings). So I logged into the admin portal and tried to find the option to delete the GApps account for my domain.

The help page was actually way out of date and was written for the admin console they had roughly around 2010, so none of the names they mentioned existed any more. I kept searching for some time until I found that the gear icon on the upper right showed "setup" as the only option. Well, it looks like I have to setup this new console. So I clicked through the setup process (trying to deselect as many services as I could). After going through the setup process of the new console I had a second option under the gear icon that allowed me to switch back to the old console view.

At this point in time it started to feel like one of these old point and click adventures (e.g., Monkey Island or Myst) where you're trapped somewhere and you need to fulfill a task. So I continued my journey.

I followed the help page (which is written for the old console view that you can only activate if you go through the setup process for the new console view that you'll only find if you click on the setup link when you open the gear icon, modulo one or two logouts/logins). And I finally found the "delete this account" link.

But behold, the journey is not over yet. Because you actually cannot click on this link. There is some text in small font that tells you that you have to unsubscribe from GApps first, before you can delete the domain account (which is not mentioned in the help). So I followed through to the next level and unsubscribed my admin account (the only account left in the domain) from the GApps services. This promptly dropped me to a couple of internal server error pages and logged me out of the GApps admin panel.

When I signed in again (using the same login and password which tells me that Google did not really delete my account), I had to agree to the Google EULA and a couple of other things and solve a captcha. I like these mini games in adventures.

After successfully logging back into the admin console I was able to switch to the classic view and navigate back to the delete this domain link. And lo and behold this time the link was active and I was able to (hopefully?) delete the admin account for the domain, and the domain account.

All in all, I have to say that this was one of the tougher adventures I had to solve, especially as I expected an easier path. Looking back I should have taken pictures for each step. I wonder what all the UI designers at Google do all day long when their admin interfaces are so convoluted and crappy. But well, maybe the just want you to have fun with their adventures and mini games.

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